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CENTAUREA cineraria 'Colchester White'

Image of Centaurea cineraria 'Colchester White'

James Burghardt



Botanical Name

CENTAUREA cineraria 'Colchester White'

Plant Common Name

Colchester White Centaurea, Dusty Miller, Silver Centaurea

General Description

Few silver-leaved ornamentals offer the cool, crisp color of ‘Colchester White.’ This favorite foliage plant produces tall mounds of frosty, ferny leaves that look cool in the daylight and glow eerily in the evening. Centaurea cineraria is native to southern Europe where it is adapted to heat and moderate drought. It is a short-lived, shrubby perennial that’s often grown as an annual.

Botanically known as a subshrub, dusty miller develops a woody base with age. ‘Colchester White’ is semi-evergreen, well-branched and taller than most selections. Its silvery, ferny leaves arch gracefully and look like intricate lace. In summer of its second year it produces small, fluffy, lavender purple daisies. Most gardeners remove the flowers to preserve the clean look of the foliage.

Centaurea cineraria is just one of the many species known as dusty miller and should not to be confused with common dusty miller, Senecio cineraria. It is drought tolerant and requires neutral to alkaline soil with excellent drainage. Full sun is best in all but the most hot and humid zones. Where temperatures are scorching, it may fare better with partial sun during the hottest part of the day. Dusty miller will survive winters up to zone 7, so it is marginally hardy. It is susceptible to root rot in summer and winter, so refrain from mulching it. The foliage can be trimmed and shaped if plants begin to sprawl. Staking may also be helpful.

Dusty miller is a choice filler plant. Bright vivid colors pop against its leaves, so plant it with everblooming, colorful bedding ornamentals for sun. It is also ideal for moon gardens and festive containers.


  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    7 - 11

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Tender Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    2"-3" / 5.1cm - 7.6cm

  • Width

    2"-3" / 5.1cm - 7.6cm

  • Bloom Time

    Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer

  • Native To

    Southern Europe, Mediterranean

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate


  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit


  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Flower Color

    Light Blue, Lavender

  • Fruit Color


  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Blue Green, Gray Green, Silver

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Blue Green, Gray Green, Silver

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Blue Green, Gray Green, Silver

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Silver, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers


  • Fragrant Fruit


  • Fragrant Foliage


  • Bark or Stem Fragrant


  • Flower Petal Number


  • Repeat Bloomer


  • Showy Fruit


  • Edible Fruit


  • Showy Foliage


  • Foliage Texture


  • Foliage Sheen


  • Evergreen


  • Showy Bark


Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Bedding Plant, Container, Edging, Mixed Border

  • Sharp or Has Thorns


  • Invasive


  • Attracts


  • Self-Sowing